Sunday, July 21, 2024

THE ACADEMY OF MAGICAL ARTS: THE HISTORY OF THE MAGIC CASTLE 

This is a world-famous private club for magicians and fans of magic, where everything takes the breath away. Los Angeles Future tells more about the Magic Castle, its activities and history.

Holly Chateau

The Magic Castle residence was built in 1909 by Rollin B. Lane. He invested in real estate, worked as a banker, lawyer and a newspaper editor. He was a famous philanthropist. The residence is made in the style of a chateau, based on the architecture of the French Renaissance.

The house was designed by architects Lyman Farwell and Oliver Dennis. The original idea was to create a mirror copy of the 1897 Kimberly Crest House and Gardens in California.

The Lanes named the castle ‘Holly Chateau’. If the activities of the owner Rollin B. Lane have already been mentioned, Rollin’s wife Katherine also deserves attention. She worked in various volunteer organizations and supported charitable communities, trying to improve Hollywood. In addition, Katherine Lane was a writer.

Here are some features of the castle:

  1. It is a two-story frame-plaster house with a large basement and an attic under a mansard roof.
  2. The house originally contained seventeen rooms, including a roof garden as well as a storage room.
  3. The house had two large gas stoves.
  4. The room where Rollin B. Lane died became the site of Houdini’s séances.

Five years after her husband’s death, Katherine Lane also passed away in 1945. Since then, it has been a home for the elderly. A little later, it was converted into several small apartments.

In 1955, the Lane descendants sold the house. Its fate remained uncertain until the house was purchased by Milt Larsen, author of Truth or Consequences, and his brother William, also known for founding Genii magazine with his wife in 1936. They turned the house into a club for magicians.

William Larsen Sr. was a fan of magic and Genii was an independent magic magazine. It was one of the most authoritative magazines in the world. Such a love for magic forced the man to give up his legal practice.

Magic and magicians

In 1952, the Academy of Magical Arts was founded, with its headquarters in the Magic Castle. It is a non-profit public organization. The opening of the castle with impressive architecture took place on January 2, 1963 thanks to William’s sons, brothers Bill (with his wife Irene) and Milt Larsen.

Many novelties appeared in the castle:

  • secret dining room doors and panels that used to be part of the dining room at the home of famed silent-era actress Norma Talmadge
  • street lights along the driveway. This avenue used to run along the Venetian Victoria Pier, a popular holiday spot in the early 20th century
  • a cast-iron frieze that formerly adorned the Masonic Temple at Wilshire
  • chandeliers that used to hang in Los Angeles’ first Bullock department store.

The magical castle has turned into a real storehouse of unique and interesting artifacts. These are just a few examples.

The uniqueness of the castle

What is the historic Magic Castle like? This is a unique private clubhouse, formerly a private residence, membership in which was quite prestigious. The building is located in the heart of Hollywood. Among the visitors of the institution, you could see celebrities and representatives of other social strata. They had one thing in common, which is a thirst for spectacle and a desire to see more illusion.

It was possible to come to the headquarters of magicians only by invitation. This right was also granted to guests of the nearby hotel called Magic Castle.

Milt Larsen recalled that at the beginning of construction, the idea was that the castle would resemble The Addams Family or Disney’s Haunted Mansion. An aura of mystical time was felt, which is what they decided to use.

In 1989, it was declared a historical and cultural monument of Los Angeles.

Tour to the Magic Castle

Visitors are greeted by a wise owl sitting on the library shelves in the lobby. Visitors whisper, ‘Open sesame’ and a hidden door opens.

The aroma of the forest and antiquity is felt, which frightens and attracts at the same time. The Grand Salon deserves special attention. There, you can appreciate the drinks and their serving.

The Ghost of Irma plays modern or nostalgic tunes on the piano. This is more than 62 thousand different tracks. Another Archimedes owl sits at the bar, puzzling as it predicts the future. The clairvoyant answers the question ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

With the development and growing popularity of the establishment, the manager of the Magic Castle, Joe Furlow, tried to improve the level of service, food and drinks.

Pepper’s Ghost lives in the basement of the castle. The ghost shows take place there. On weekends, Houdini’s séance room opens to summon spirits long gone. The room is named after Houdini’s wife, who for years tried to contact her husband, summon his spirit after his untimely death.

Fire

On October 31, 2011, a fire broke out in the Magic Castle. The media noted that this was not a Halloween trick but a true story. However, it is worth telling the whole story.

Its website had an announcement about preparations for the annual gala, which stated:

‘The last week of October, the Magic Castle will burn in the spirit of Halloween’

Due to an unfortunate turn, a real fire broke out in the attic of the house. The cost of damages was estimated at thousands of dollars. Due to the fire, the establishment was closed for two days and the Halloween celebration had to be canceled.

No one was injured during the fire, thanks to the work of the city’s 125 city firefighters, as well as the use of a large sprinkler system. Some firefighters battled the blaze, while others used rolls of plastic to minimize damage to the Magic Castle’s priceless artifacts.

Analyzing various sources involved in the investigation, it can be said that before the fire broke out, the roof of the club was being repaired.

Randy Pitchford

He is an American businessman who in 1999 co-founded the video game studio Gearbox Software. Until 2021, he was the company’s president and CEO.

It is known that Randy Pitchford purchased the Magic Castle in April 2022. The man turned out to be the great-nephew of the British magician Richard Valentine Pitchford. The public knew the magician well by the name of Cardini.

Erika Larsen manages the property and the academy as a tenant of Bill Jr.’s daughter.

In Los Angeles, you never know for sure what awaits you. One of the historical and mesmerizing sights is the magical castle, which is definitely worth visiting. It is an exclusive private club surrounded by mystery and luxury.

There are several general points worth knowing about it:

  • exclusivity due to limited access. The institution’s administration carefully selects members and guests
  • a strict dress code, which provides for the arrival of guests only in elegant clothes
  • refined atmosphere and elegant design
  • a wide range of entertainment, such as performances by magicians, illusionists, delicious food and drinks.

Having visited the Magic Castle at least once, you will feel the atmosphere of luxury, mystery and magic. Although getting to the castle may not be easy, it is an experience you will remember for a lifetime.

Latest Posts

.,.,.,.,.,.,.,. Copyright © Partial use of materials is allowed in the presence of a hyperlink to us.